Monday, December 21, 2009


Ok I will admit it up front...I am a foreigner and I am very excited by snow! But at least I admit it! There are a lot of people at work who are pretending to be soooo over the snow, but then sneaking little peeks out the window to see if it's settling on the ground. I see you people!

This morning I gingerly made my way to the tube, through the iced over footpaths. Didn't quite make it safely after slipping on the ice, bruising my knee and elbow and staining my new jacket. Followed by being stepped over by the elderly couple behind me who just kept walking without even an "are you ok dear"?

The last few days it's been trying desperately to snow in London. Lots of place outside the city have had a lot of snow, but due to the city retaining a bit of heat it seems to hit the ground here and melt not long after. But today the snow came down...and stayed! Everyone at work was a little panicked, as being Britain, everything stops for 3cm of snow! Will the train be delayed? Will the bus be running? Will I slip over on the way home? Will the district line be working? Just a few things heard around the office this afternoon before everyone dashed out the door before the snow got any heavier. However when I got to Southfields tube I understood why....

The council must have run out of salt, or taken a gamble and not purchased any at all, because there was icy slush everywhere that was beginning to freeze again, making our very own skating rink on the footpath. After waiting at the bus stop for 10 minutes James rang to say he'd heard the buses weren't running. We have quite a steep hill leading up to our house and the buses weren't able to make it up on the icy roads! So a trudge home in the snow for me it was...15 minutes and soggy, cold, wet feet later....I arrived home.

God bless London!

Frosty Weekend

We decided to head to London's Borough Market on Sunday to see if there were some last minute goodies to get for Christmas, and to have a general look around. It was extremely cold! So cold that the tasting containers with olive oil at many of the stands were frozen solid! Some fish and chips and chorizo in a bun (and lots of tastes of cheese/olive oil/brownie etc) later and we were a little warmer. The market itself was much smaller than I expected, perhaps I've gotten used to everything in London being bigger than average? But the food was fairly special and that's the most important thing ;)

Icy footpath near our house waiting for the bus. Very dangerous!!
All rugged up for our expedition.

Mmmmm chocolate truffles!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

First Live Music Experience in London :)

Last night was a trip to the Brixton Academy for the XFM Winter Wonderland gig. The lineup included Razorlight, Temper Trap and Bombay Bicycle Club, plus a few unknowns. Big warning however....never go near a Big Pink album. THE WORST band I have heard in a very very long time. Unless of course you like so much bass you feel like your chest is caving in, combined with screaming tuneless singing, instruments which sound like they are being strangled and flashing strobe lights directly in the face. As James said, it was like psychological warfare! The only cheer was when they left the stage.

Temper Trap however were fabulous, what a voice! Go Aussie, makes me proud :) We liked them so much we got tickets today to their Shepherd's Bush gig in April (nothing like planning ahead). We also have cheap tickets to see Frank Turner in March. So all in all a good night and am loving the cheap tickets for live music here. At home only about 5 out of 10 artists that are in Australia come to Perth and you seem to pay a huge premium for the privilege. One more tick for London :)
Video of Temper Trap and Razorlight to come when I have the patience to wait for the upload!

Christmas Gifts - Jamie Oliver Style

Last Saturday I went to Jamie Oliver's Recipease in Clapham Junction for a cooking lesson, THE best present from James for my birthday :) I have blogged about this place before but I love it, homewares, food and cooking, some of my favourite things combined in one store.

My lesson was for homemade Xmas gifts and we made a stunning lemon curd (was told mine was the best in the class, not that I want to show off.....), a chocolate mocha mix for making hot chocolate, and florentine butter (chocolate, orange, almond and cherry butter for your christmas pudding). We received a glass of wine on arrival and our own little workstation with ingredients measured out, a lovely teacher and someone to wash our dishes afterwards. Why can't cooking be like this all the time?? This was followed by a little wrapping/decorating session to make our goodies "gift-ready". Highly recommend doing one of these classes if you're in London, so much fun! Am sure I will be back there soon.

Here are some pics of my goodies...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Venetian Birthday Weekend

This weekend we headed to Venice for my birthday. Was a little touch and go if we would make it after spending 8 hours at St George's hospital A&E...James had a stomach infection/gastro/food poisoning (which was the best explanation the doctor could come up with after the 8 hrs and numerous tests?). NHS strikes again. So after some medication and a sleepless night, we managed to keep breakfast down and so we were off!
Venice was very cold but lovely, lively but not too busy and lots and lots of tasty food! James claims he is ruined forever after having gelato, English icecream will apparently never be the same. And he ate copious amounts on the premise he was sick so it must be ok?
We found a lovely little family run restaurant for my birthday dinner which was the best food of our trip. Artichoke soup for starter, tender veal cooked in white wine for main, and THE BEST tiramisu for dessert.
I think we will definitely visit again one day and it was the perfect time of year to go.
We had planned a trip to Murano where Murano glass is made however, in true Italian style, there was a public transport strike and so no ferry was running on the Monday before we left for the airport. Next time!
We stayed at the Hotel Canal Grande and would highly recommend it. The staff were fantastic, even not charging us for water from the minibar and the cups of tea we had sent up to the room. And the Baci chocolates on the bed each day went down well too ;)

First night's dinner, a lovely woodfired artichoke pizza.

My lovely birthday tiramisu.

In the restaurant, which came complete with white and red checked tablecloths and a waiter with big italian style moustache.

Getting ready for dinner.

Our lovely little restaurant. We managed to avoid the tourist traps near the canal and went searching down a little side street and stumbled upon it.

View from the breakfast room in our hotel. What a view to wake up to! And the coffee.....perfection.

View of the Ponte Rialto from the vaporetto (ferry).

Some blown glass we saw in a shop window...very clever!

Mmmmm, italian pasticceria, my favourite kind of shop.

Shopping on the Ponte Rialto at night.

View from the front of our hotel.

Spot of shopping? (i wish!)

Some more blown glass animals, put my finger up so you can see just how small these were!

Playing in puddles in San Marco.

St Mark's

These massive blocks of chocolate were being sold in almost every shop. We couldn't resist getting some before we left.

Gondolas near San Marco

A flooded but beautiful St Mark's.

ATM for tall people! For some reason all the ATM's were at this height.

Parking controls, venice style.

We realised after walking across this bridge the archways you can see on the left of the photo was the fire station, again, venice style!

Our hotel room, only the italians could get away with this lavish decor!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Customer Service? Not in the UK!!

This week we have attempted to do something quite simple, get Sky TV connected. We joined online, chose a date and waited for the day....last Sunday. Do we have Sky TV yet? Of course not!!!!

We waited at home for 12 hours for the installation "engineer" to arrive. Who never showed up. And after 4 phone calls to Sky costing me a fortune they finally say "well you can probably assume he's not coming". Uh....ok.

So 3 days and 12 phone calls later, the earliest they can rebook it for is now the 17 December, 3 weeks after the original installation date. I have been officially defeated by the call centre staff who keep going around and around in circles reading off their stupid scripts. At one point I refused to hang up the phone until I got to speak with a supervisor, who apologised profusely, promised to get an installation date for this week and call me back. And of course didn't.

I GIVE UP!! Are you listening Sky? You've won!!!! :(

Friday, November 27, 2009

Winter and the NHS

I'm feeling like winter is almost upon's dark by 4pm and very very cold, even though all the locals keep telling me it's quite mild for this time of year. Maybe for the initiated! The last week has seen me add an extra layer for the walk to the tube and leave my coat on for the train journey (has up to this point been too hot while sardined in with other commuters). We are also relishing the discovery of Sainsbury's home delivered groceries, particularly with the cold. The thought of pushing through the crowds, lining up then lugging everything home on the bus just doesn't appeal!

We now have a car for a little while, courtesy of James's mum and dad who are back in Australia until next year. Took me three months to get used to not having a car, now it feels like a bit of a luxury to have one again....especially knowing there are only certain places you can take it (congestion charge, parking issues and traffic mean you wouldn't go anywhere near central London or busy areas). Will be nice to do some trips out of London though.

Will also be easier for us to get to Bodyflight for James to make use of his birthday present - a lesson at the indoor skydiving centre outside of London which is essentially a massive vertical wind tunnel! Fun :) I'm sure there will be hilarious photos to come!!

Christmas is approaching, have all my Christmas shopping done which is just as well because the shops are soooo busy! Never thought I would say this, but shopping at this time of year here just isn't really an enjoyable experience. I know, shock horror. But the Christmas lights are up, shop windows are filled with fake snow and all things festive and best of all...they aren't playing Christmas carols yet :) (can't stand them!).

Christmas dinner this year will be a free range turkey from the local butcher with all the trimmings, am busy looking up recipes having not cooked one before, suggestions welcome! Also have a feeling that I'll need to find leftover recipes as there are four of us...and 5kgs of turkey! Will be different having a hot dinner with the cold outside rather than a cold dinner with the hot outside like back home. No firing up the BBQ this year!

This week also saw me register with a doctor. Can't just call a GP here and see whoever you like, you have to register at one in your area and then they have to accept you. The process was quite easy for James, being a Brit, and should have been easy for me. Except in true British NHS style they lost all my paperwork I filled in. All 3 or 4 pages of my complete medical history. Lovely! Then proceeded to tell me it wasn't an issue as I could just fill it in again. Hmmm! So I shouldn't be concerned my details were floating around somewhere? Ok, will just have to take their word for it! Then went into the appointment with the nurse, who you have to see before being allowed to make appointments with the GP, only to be asked every single question that was on the paperwork. That I filled out twice. Looooving the NHS. Although it is free so shouldn't complain too much!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Some shots of the last few weeks......

Bonfire night at Wimbledon Park.

Massive Guy Fawkes bonfire, could feel the heat from about 100m away. Good thing, was damn cold!!

Christmas lights at Regent/Oxford Street.

Christmas window at Hamleys toy store on Regent Street.

Colin Firth turning on the Christmas Lights at Regent Street, is him!!

Sunny but cold day in Oxford.


Mmmmm pies in Oxford.

Wimbledon Common, only a 5 minute walk from our new house.

Beautiful Wimbledon Common (didn't spot a womble, will keep my eyes peeled next time).